General Question

dd1234's avatar

How many acres does it take to raise one cow?

Asked by dd1234 (10points) January 5th, 2010

how many acres to raise a cow.

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12 Answers

marinelife's avatar

From msuextension:

“Growing beef cattle will consume approximately 2.5 percent of their body weight each day (dry matter pounds) depending on forage maturity and palatability. It requires approximately 8 to 10 pounds of roughage (dry matter) for every pound of gain. Thus a 600 pound growing calf consuming 15 pounds of dry matter may gain
approximately 1.5 to 2.0 pounds each day (depending on forage quality). This level of ADG can be increased when a concentrate, such as barley or corn, is fed to the cattle on grass. This will also increase the number of animals that can be placed on a pasture. If concentrate is fed it should be fed at relatively low levels (2 to 4 pounds per day) in a feed trough while cattle are on pasture. The prices of the various commodities will dictate for any given year if this is economically
advantageous. Vitamins and minerals must also be provided.”

Snarp's avatar

I imagine it depends on what you want to get out of it. If you want maximum productivity, then the number will be higher. If you just want a healthy cow that delivers enough milk for your family, maybe less. It will also depend on the productivity of the land, the growing season, and what you are feeding the cow. AS @Marina‘s numbers suggest, you need less physical land if you feed corn or barley, but I’m not sure whether that really reduces the number of total acres to support the cow, if you consider the acres used to raise the barley or corn.

Sorry, I’ve got no hard numbers for you.

mass_pike4's avatar

1 cow = 1 acre

CyanoticWasp's avatar

As @Marina replied in his excellent technical presentation (for beef cattle)^, it depends on what your acreage will grow. If you raise a cow on a feedlot and fatten him with corn, then it takes very little “space”. But if all you have is poor, dry range grass, then it’s going to take a lot more of that acreage.

I’m sure that “winter” is going to play a part in this too, but I don’t know what part.

I don’t know a damn thing about raising beef or milk cattle, and what the differences might be. But if you define your inputs (tell us what kind of acreage you’ve got) and your expected outputs (milk, or meat?), then perhaps you can get a very close approximation.

^ Followed by @snarp, but I hadn’t seen that response.

dpworkin's avatar

Also, if you are running a factory farm and fattening your beef on hormones and grain, that is one scenario. It’s much different if you care about your product, and allow your cattle to forage.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@mass_pike4 That’s good for New England with plenty of rainfall. Out in the Dakotas or Montana it can be 20+ acres per cow.

mass_pike4's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land: Ya I live in New England, vague answer haha

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@mass_pike4 So do I, just didn’t want anybody confused.

marinelife's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Ahem, I’m female.

Blondesjon's avatar

It is about an acre per heifer with calf.

We run about 250 black angus heifers and our MO is to keep the girls out in the pasture, year round. We throw four or five bulls in with them at the same time every year so we can get our calving all done in the early spring and at roughly the same time. The only time any of the mature cattle see the feed lot is when we are running them through the chute for shots or a pregnancy check.

The calves stay on their heifer and in the pasture until they are big enough to wean, usually around 7 or 8 months. For us this is usually around mid-October. We bring them in and give them their first round of shots. We also castrate all of the bulls we aren’t keeping back. The calves are then sent back to the pasture to spend two more weeks on mama’s tit before being brought back in, given their second round of shots, and put up for good on the feed lot. We feed them out for 8–10 weeks on corn and then we haul them in to the auction.

The next spring we start all over again.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Marina, of course you are. I’m sorry for the implied slur in suggesting assuming otherwise.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

As an aside, you can double the number of sheep per acre but must rotate their pasture more frequently as they graze closer to the grass roots. My property manager is intoducing Merinos on the NH place and the UNH extension agent told her she could comfortably handle a flock of up to 250 on the 140 acres of pasture land. I don’t think Gen is going to try for more than 100. She’s starting with only 15 (enough to justify a ram).

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